President Muhammadu Buhari gave indications on Thursday that he would dig further into the alleged financial impropriety involving leaders of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), especially concerning how they reportedly spent $16 billion on power projects without tangible improvement in the sector.
Buhari, who was re-elected as president for a second term in office on February 28 according to results from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), also lamented how the opposition, which held sway for 16 years, spent earnings from the sales of oil at the international market between 1999 and 2014.
The president bared his grievances when he played host to a delegation of the organised labour which came to felicitate with him on his victory at the polls.
“The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) still owes Nigerians explanation on how it expended the humongous resources that accrued to the country from oil sales between 1999 and 2014,” President Muhammadu Buhari said.
He added: “The current administration met a country with dilapidated infrastructure all round in 2015, and it calls to serious question what the party that was in power for 16 years did with the country’s earnings from oil, which reached a peak during the period.
“PDP has not successfully explained to the country what they did with the money, there were no roads, no rail, no power. They said they spent $16 billion on power, but where is the power?
“The irresponsible expenditure of that period has not been explained, and Nigerians deserve an answer on that terrible mismanagement of the country.”
The president seized the opportunity of the forum to express gratitude to the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress, which mobilised their members to come out and vote in spite of the initial postponement of the election.
According to the president, that short period when the electoral umpire postponed the election was a trying period for most of the candidates.
“I thank the organised labour for the support and patriotism you have shown during the presidential election, especially after the unexpected postponement.
“You and your members stepped in to support willing Nigerians to exercise their civic and patriotic rights to vote. You intervened as patriots, and not for political, religious or tribal purposes. You simply did the right thing during a difficult period for many of us”, Buhari said.
On what Nigerians should expect in the next lap of the administration, President Buhari said he would continue to push the change agenda, “and remain focused on the core pillars of security, economy, and fight against corruption”.
He admonished the organised labour to partner with the government to make the country peaceful, prosperous, and corruption-free.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, lauded the president for being worker-friendly as exemplified in the granting of bailout funds to state governments to pay backlog of salaries and pensions.
Wabba said: “We all remember the special bailout and budget support you introduced to support state governments during the recession.
“Your directive during this intervention was that state governments must offset accumulated arrears of salaries and pension liabilities.
“I remember you publicly asked state governors, ‘how do you manage to sleep at night when the salaries of workers in your state are not paid?’
“For us, that was one of the finest moments we have had with any president in this country.
“I can stand here today and say your intervention was the difference between life and death for many workers.”
The labour leader appealed to the National Assembly to earnestly pass the National Minimum Wage Act, while also asking the president to thereafter sign it into law within the shortest possible time.
The organised labour pledged to remain a veritable partner in progress with government, counseling the president to continue to make the Nigerian people, especially the poor, the centre-piece of his policy initiatives and actions.